Rhode Island: Mandated Short Term Disability Rates Increase

Weekly Maximum and Minimum Benefit Rates Increase

Rhode Island has announced that its weekly maximum and minimum short term disability rates have increased.

Background
Rhode Island’s temporary disability insurance program provides income support to individuals who are out of work because of a non-work related illness or injury. To be eligible, an individual must meet certain earnings requirements and be medically certified by a qualified health care provider as unable to work.

An individual’s weekly benefit rate will be equal to 4.62% of the wages paid in the highest quarter of his or her base period.

Updated Rates
For claims with a “Benefit Year Begin Date” of July 3, 2016 or later,$89.00 is the minimum benefit rate and $817.00 is the maximum benefit rate. This does not include dependency allowance. The weekly benefit rate remains the same throughout the entire benefit year.

Click here for more information on Rhode Island’s temporary disability program.

Originally Published by HR 360, Inc.

DOL Revises Federal Minimum Wage and Employee Polygraph Workplace Posters

2016 Federal Banner for Blog
Revised Posters Must Be Posted as of August 1, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has recently updated its Fair Labor Standards Act and Employee Polygraph Protection Act posters. The new versions are now included in our State & Federal Combination Posters, as well as various versions of our Federal All-In-One Posters.

Background
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards. Covered nonexempt workers are entitled to at least the federal minimum wage, and overtime pay at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek.

Note: Employers may also have certain obligations under state and/or local laws, including minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. When both the FLSA and a state law apply, the employee is entitled to the most favorable provisions of each law.

The federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment. Employers generally may not require or request any employee or job applicant to take a lie detector test, or discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee or job applicant for refusing to take a test.

Revised Posters
Every employer of employees subject to the FLSA’s minimum wage provisions must post (and keep posted) a notice explaining the law in a conspicuous place in all of their establishments so as to permit employees to readily read it.

Additionally, every employer subject to the EPPA must post (and keep posted) on its premises a notice explaining the law. The notice must be posted in a prominent and conspicuous place in every establishment of the employer where it can readily be observed by employees and applicants for employment.

As of August 1, 2016, employers must post these revised versions. All In One Poster Company has revised all posters containing these notices as of July 29, 2016.

DOL Issues Guidance for Private Employers on Final Overtime Rule

Guidance Provides Options for Compliance

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released guidance on its final overtime rule to help private sector employers evaluate current practices and transition to the rule’s requirements.

Background
The DOL’s final rule, effective December 1, 2016, updates the regulations governing which executive, administrative, and professional employees (“white collar” workers) are entitled to the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levelsneeded for such workers to be exempt. In particular, the final rule:

  • Raises the salary threshold from $455 a week to $913 per week (or$47,476 annually) for a full-year worker;
  • Sets the highly-compensated employee (HCE) total annual compensation level equal to $134,004 annually;
  • Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every 3 years, beginning on January 1, 2020; and
  • Amends the regulations to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses, incentives, and commissions to satisfy up to 10% of the new standard salary level, so long asemployers pay those amounts on a quarterly or more frequent basis.

Note: When both the FLSA and a state law apply, the employee is entitled to the most favorable provisions of each law.

New Guidance
Among other things, the DOL’s guidance details some of the options employers may exercise in determining how to comply with the final rule. Employers have certain options for responding to the changes to the salary level, and the DOL does not dictate or recommend any method. Such options include:

  • Providing pay raises that increase workers’ salaries to the new threshold;
  • Spreading employment by reducing or eliminating work hours of individual employees working over 40 hours per week for which no overtime is being paid; or
  • Paying overtime.

Note: The rule does not require employers to convert a salaried worker making less than the new salary threshold to hourly status; employers can pay non-exempt employees on a salary basis and pay overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a week.

Click here to read the guidance. Additional information on the final rule, including fact sheets and Q&As, is available on the DOL’s final rule webpage.

Originally Published by HR 360, Inc.

San Francisco: Minimum Wage Rises to $13.00 Per Hour on July 1, 2016

As a reminder, the San Francisco minimum wage will rise to $13.00 per hour san-francisco-ordinances-non-laminated-minimum-wage-paid-sick-hcso-fair-chance-family-friendly-imagebeginning July 1, 2016. A new poster reflecting the updated rate (in multiple languages) is now available by clicking here.

Future Minimum Wage Increases in San Francisco
Additional raises are expected according to the following schedule:

  • $14.00 per hour beginning on July 1, 2017;
  • $15.00 per hour beginning on July 1, 2018; and
  • Increased annually by an amount corresponding to the prior year’s increase (if any) in the Consumer Price Index beginning on July 1, 2019.

Click here for more information.

ORIGINALLY POSTED BY HR360

California: New Laws Expand Coverage of Workplace Smoking Prohibitions

E-Cigarettes Included in Workplace Smoking Prohibitions

Several recent pieces of legislation, generally effective on June 9, 2016, expand coverage of California’s workplace smoking prohibitions.

Electronic Cigarettes NoVaping.gif

  • A new law recasts and broadens the definition of “tobacco product” under state law to include electronic cigarettes. By broadening the definition of “tobacco products,” the new measure extends existing laws that relate to tobacco products (e.g., workplace smoking laws) to electronic cigarettes.
    • Note: The law also states that certain retailers of tobacco products (including electronic cigarettes), which are not subject to a tobacco tax, must apply for a license and pay an annual license fee of $265, beginning January 1, 2017. Additional details and obligations are described in the law.

Workplace Smoking Prohibitions Expanded

  • An additional measure amends the state’s workplace smoking law to cover additional places. Key changes include the following:
    • Owner-Operated Businesses. The law extends the workplace smoking prohibition to include owner-operated businesses in which the owner-operator is the only worker and there are no employees, independent contractors, or volunteers.
    • Covered Parking Lots. The law expands the definition of “enclosed space” where smoking is prohibited to include covered parking lots.
    • Guestroom Accommodations. The law reduces to 20% (from 65%) the amount of guestroom accommodations in a hotel, motel, or similar transient lodging establishment in which smoking is allowed.
    • Additional Smoke-Free Locations. The measure eliminates several exemptions in the law which (until June 9, 2016) allow the smoking of tobacco products in certain work environments. As such, the smoking of tobacco products is prohibited at the following locations:
      • Hotel or motel lobbies;
      • Meeting and banquet rooms in a hotel or motel;
      • Warehouse facilities;
      • Gaming clubs;
      • Bars and taverns;
      • Employee break rooms; and
      • Businesses with a total of 5 or fewer employees.

Employers may review the text of the new laws regarding electronic cigarettes and workplace smoking for additional details.

ORIGINALLY POSTED BY WWW.HR360.COM

Cal/OSHA Cites Tree Service Company for Fatal Safety Breach

Chainsaw LanyardRedding—Cal/OSHA has cited Wright Tree Service of the West, Inc. for serious safety violations following an investigation into a fatal tree-trimming accident in Humboldt County near Weitchpec. The proposed penalties total $31,750.

On December 30, 2015, Kenneth A. Williams, a foreman with Wright Tree Services of the West, died while trimming a bay laurel tree on Rock Ranch Road. Although Williams was using a flipline lanyard to secure himself to the tree, it had only one point of attachment when regulations require two. Williams was killed when he accidentally cut the lanyard with the chainsaw he was operating and fell 54 feet.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation revealed the employer had failed to ensure that workers were using a second point of attachment to secure the worker when operating a chain saw in a tree. Also, workers’ clothing, equipment and procedures failed to meet safety standards.

“Tree work involves many hazards, and employers must develop and implement safety procedures and train their employees to prevent accidents,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Most accidents can be prevented.”

Both citations in this case were classified as serious. Serious violations are cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation.

Failure to develop and implement appropriate safety procedures is one of the major causes of serious workplace injury and death in California. Accidents related to tree work can result in severe traumatic injuries and death. Twelve fatal accidents related to tree work have been reported to Cal/OSHA since May 2015.

Commonly reported accidents include falls, electrocutions, and those caused by falling objects. Most accidents can be prevented by recognizing and controlling hazards in advance as well as training employees on safe work practices and effective use of personal protective equipment. Cal/OSHA offers a fact sheet on tree work safety.

Cal/OSHA Urges Employers to Protect Outdoor Workers from Record-Breaking Heat Wave

CA Heat IllnessFresno—California heat of the past several years has shattered temperature records going back more than 100 years. With this year’s heat season approaching, Cal/OSHA hosted a news conference today to remind employers that prevention is the best defense for outdoor workers against heat-related illness and death.

A key component to Cal/OSHA’s prevention model includes annual trainings statewide in both English and Spanish. Two bilingual trainings, co-sponsored by the Nisei Farmers League and 11 other agricultural employers, were held today in Easton. The trainings highlight the need to protect outdoor workers from heat illness and the requirements under California’s heat illness standard.

“Employers at outdoor worksites must know the steps to take to prevent heat illness injuries on the job,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Cal/OSHA continues to focus on training and outreach, combined with enforcement targeting those employers who put their workers’ safety at risk.”

The risk of heat illness is generally highest for people who work outdoors. Therefore, Cal/OSHA’s approach to prevention includes inspections at outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, landscaping and construction during heat season. These targeted inspections check for compliance with the heat illness prevention standard and the injury and illness prevention standard, which require employers to take the following basic precautions:

  1. Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
  2. Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, or four 8-ounce glasses of water per hour, and encourage them to do so.
  3. Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool‐down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. Shade structures must be in place when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or upon request.
  4. Closely observe all employees during a heat wave and any employee newly assigned to a high heat area. Lighter work, frequent breaks or shorter hours will help employees who have not been working in high temperatures adapt to the new conditions.
  5. Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard, including plans on how to handle medical emergencies and steps to take if someone shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.

The most frequent violation that Cal/OSHA cites during targeted heat inspections is for failure to have a proper written heat illness prevention plan specific to the worksite.  Serious violations are often related to inadequate access to water and shade, and to a lack of supervisor and employee training.

To remain in compliance with the standard, Cal/OSHA encourages employers and worker supervisors to learn more about the standard, which was updated in 2015. Please refer to the Cal/OSHA guidance on the new requirements and the Heat Illness Prevention Enforcement Q&A for more information on the updates.

All In One Poster Company has updated its California Heat Illness Prevention Poster with the most recent revisions in 2015. This poster is available in both English and Spanish. Aside from this, All In One Posters has also developed the California Indoor Heat Stress Poster which addresses heat illness prevention for indoor work environments. Displaying safety posters signify a commitment to safety and compliance.

 

California Raises Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour Over Next Several Years

 

Increases Begin January 1, 2017 for Certain Employers

Under a new law, the California minimum wage is scheduled to rise as follows:

  • For employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will be:
    • From January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017: $10.50 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018: $11 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019: $12 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020: $13 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021: $14 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2022 until adjusted for inflation: $15 per hour.
  • For employers with 25 or fewer employees, the minimum wage will be:
    • From January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018: $10.50 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019: $11 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020: $12 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021: $13 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022: $14 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2023 until adjusted for inflation: $15 per hour.

Click here to read the text of the law.

ORIGINALLY POSTED BY http://www.hr360.com

EEOC Fact Sheet Outlines Responsibilities of Small Businesses Under Federal Nondiscrimination Laws

Equal opportunityFact Sheet Available in Multiple Languages

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a fact sheet that provides an overview of the legal obligations of small businesses under federal nondiscrimination laws.

Background
The EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, and genetic information. These laws also prohibit retaliation (punishment) for opposing or reporting discrimination, or participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The laws enforced by the EEOC apply to employers who employ a certain threshold number of employees.

Fact Sheet
In the fact sheet, the EEOC outlines the following responsibilities for employers:

  • Ensure that employment decisions are not based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.
  • Ensure that work policies and practices are related to the job and do not disproportionately exclude people of a particular race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age.
  • Ensure that employees are not harassed because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.
  • Provide equal pay to male and female employees who perform the same work (unless employers can justify a pay difference under the law).
  • Respond promptly and adequately to discrimination complaints. Stop, address, and prevent harassment and discrimination. Ensure that employees are not punished for complaining.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations (changes to the way things are normally done at work, such as permitting a schedule change so an employee can attend a doctor’s appointment or can observe a religious holiday) to applicants and employees who need them for medical or religious reasons, if required by law.
  • Display a poster that describes the federal employment discrimination laws.
  • Keep any employment records (such as applications or personnel records) as required by law.

Note: Employers may have additional responsibilities under federal, state, or local nondiscrimination laws.

The fact sheet also provides information about EEOC resources for small business owners, and is available in multiple languages. Click here to download the fact sheet (scroll down to the “Small Businesses” tab to view the available languages).

ORIGINALLY POSTED BY http://www.hr360.com

 

Gov. Brown signs bill to raise California’s minimum wage

Jerry Brown

LOS ANGELES (KRON) — Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s new minimum-wage bill Monday morning in Los Angeles.

Governor Brown signed the bill at 9 a.m. in the Ronald Reagan State Building.

The landmark legislation SB 3 passed by both houses of the Legislature on Thursday, making California the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour statewide.

$15 an hour will be the highest-paid minimum wage in the nation.

“California is proving once again that it can get things done and help people get ahead,” said Governor Brown when the deal was announced earlier this week. “This plan raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change.”

California’s current $10-an-hour minimum wage is tied with Massachusetts for the highest among states. Only Washington, D.C., at $10.50 per hour is higher. New York’s minimum wage is $9.

The plan is to increase the minimum wage over time in phases.

Under the plan, minimum wage will rise to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017 for businesses with 26 or more employees, and then rises each year until reaching $15 per hour in 2022.

This plan also recognizes the contributions of small businesses – those with 25 or fewer employees – to California’s economy and allows additional time for these employers to phase in the increases.

Once the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour for all businesses, wages could then be increased each year up to 3.5 percent for inflation as measured by the national Consumer Price Index.

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